You may have seen our blog about the jointly produced (and free) publication focussing on George Stephenson in Chesterfield (if not see below). But, in this blog, we focus on the present and future of his former residence at Tapton House.
So, what is currently happening? In 2018 Chesterfield College, who had at one time been in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University for a further education campus at Tapton, withdrew from the facility. This left the owners – Chesterfield Borough Council – with an empty Grade II* listed building. (It should be remembered that Grade II* buildings are particularly important and are of more than special interest. Only 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*.)
Though the building was subject to an extensive refurbishment in 1993-4 and has the benefit of enhanced security systems, it is obviously an unsatisfactory position for an empty building such as this. The council took the decision to market the property – which it is doing through an estate agency – primarily for office space – for what, it is hoped, could be a prestigious corporate headquarters or the like. Access to the parkland would be preserved.
Unfortunately, the pandemic intervened. There has also been some debate in the area about the availability of office space, after the pandemic, but it is widely acknowledged that the demand for such space has taken something of a nose-dive. Consequently, Tapton House still remains empty.
Councillor Dean Collins, council member for economic growth was recently quoted in the Derbyshire Times as saying; ‘The council is currently advertising Tapton House for “all enquiries” and would consider leasing the building to someone on a very long-term lease. This would mean the council would still retain some control of the building.’
There are other possibilities. A group – The Friends of Tapton House – has been formed to explore some of these. We’d recommend you visit their website friendsoftaptonhouse.wordpress.com to have a look at their thoughts and perhaps join them. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get involved. Addionally they have a Facebook page. Ideas, according to the group, include ‘artists and craftspeople running courses and exhibiting and selling their work, displays showing the history of the house and the school, adult education, museum pieces, music groups, amateur dramatic groups etc.’
Chesterfield Civic Society are also concerned about the future of the building and have featured it in a number of their member newsletters. Indeed, society chairman Philip Riden guested an editorial in historical railway magazine Back Track highlighting the plight of Tapton House.
Despite some unfortunate comments on social media, we currently believe that the council has the best interests of Tapton House and the parkland at its heart. Indeed, it was the borough council who partnered in securing the future of Tapton House after the school closed in 1991. There will inevitably be some hard work required again to secure the future of this wonderful asset not just to Brimington and Tapton, but the wider Chesterfield and district community.
To find out more about Tapton House and its owners download the jointly produced publication on George Stephenson below: